Ready, Set, Go!
A Brief Cognitive Motivational Program for Individuals on Social Assistance


Employment has been shown to be a key marker in recovery for people struggling with mental illness. Regular work helps people to better engage with their communities, provides structure, and is an overall normalizing experience. In fact, research indicates that 70-90% of individuals with mental illness want to pursue competitive employment. For some individuals with mental illness, however, long-term work can sometimes be out of reach. They may hold beliefs that keep them from reaching their full potential as employees, or may lack the intrinsic motivation skills they need to keep working – and when things go wrong, may externalize blame. At the same time, employers may unfairly see employees with mental illness as having a lack of motivation, reliability or dependency. At the same time, many job-training programs can be resource-intensive and ineffective in meeting the needs of clients with mental illness.


RSG is a unique, group-based intervention program that adopts a radically different approach in assisting individuals with mental move towards employment. The program is based on developing the intrinsic motivation skills critical to making longterm change. RSG helps clients become “ready, willing and able” to tackle the core issues holding them back.

While many vocational rehabilitation programs focus on teaching cognitive behavioral skills or emphasize support and encouragement for coping with existing problems and obstacles, the 3-stage ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ program takes a different approach. Instead, RSG hones in on developing intrinsic motivation, a critical component for making a personal commitment to change and for garnering the insight required for individuals to want to move their lives in a new direction.. Motivational practice helps individuals become “ready, willing and able” to tackle some core issues in their lives. At the same time, commitment to change is a prerequisite for the effort required to realize it. That commitment arises, fundamentally, out of an understanding of the need to change, the individual’s capacity to begin effecting this change, and the importance one attaches for this change to begin with some sense of urgency.


The RSG program takes a three-stage approach to vocational rehabilitation designed to move participants through a series of steps:


  • Acceptance of the need to change

  • Problem recognition

  • Problem definition

  • Setting a plan for change

  • Reviewing and practicing efforts to change in order to control the risks for relapse (failing to keep or maintain employment)


The program incorporates about 27 3-hour group sessions, interspersed with one-on-one work. The program is structured and organized so that clients heighten self-awareness, learn new skills, and build on existing strengths and competencies as they move from one session to the next. As a cognitive motivational program, “Ready, Set, Go!” fits within the Psychosocial Rehabilitation Principals already in use within many organizations that support individuals with mental health needs. The “Ready, Set, Go!” program demonstrates respect for clients’ past experiences and belief that individuals have the capacity to change and grow beyond their current situation.